Minneapolis scores B+ in managerial report

Travis Reed

Minneapolis’ strategic planning and financial management were credited as making the city one of the top five most effectively run city governments in the country, according to a report released Monday.
The study, conducted by Syracuse University and Governing magazine, analyzed 35 of the nation’s largest cities in terms of revenue. It looked at five criteria, each graded on an A-F scale.
Minneapolis received an overall B-plus ranking, tying for third place with Indianapolis and Virginia Beach, Va.
Phoenix was the top-ranked city, receiving the only overall A. New Orleans and Buffalo, NY, tied for last, each earning C-minus averages.
Minneapolis finished above the national average in all but one category. It received a B-minus in “Managing for Results,” a category designed to measure how well officials use and produce quantifiable results for citizens.
According to the study, the city “faces many obstacles in its effort to move toward managing for results.” It cited strong labor unions and a weak mayor system as barriers to Minneapolis’ success.
The city received an A-minus in financial management and was commended as one of two cities in the country with a triple-A ranking from three financial rating services. However, Minneapolis was not ranked higher because its officials “regularly overspend their budgets” and experience problems in contract management, according to the report.
City officials are pleased about the rankings and say they view the report as both an affirmation of success and an opportunity to improve in areas that might need work, like results management and overspending.
“The study proves what we already know. We have good management with accountability, and we know how to best manage resources,” said Ann Freeman, communications director for Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton. “We’ve been working hard on streamlining and improving city government.”
The report placed Minneapolis highest in information technology, indicating that its “strategic IT planning is as good here as anywhere in the country.”
Though the report only analyzes cities’ theoretical potentials to be effective and not how successful they have been in reality, researchers say they hope the results will aid city officials in improving plans for city government.
“We hope they’ll look at it and find some use in having an independent, outside source evaluating them in five important areas,” said Richard Green, special projects editor for Governing magazine.
Green said cities should look to the reports as a way to make internal improvements and to benchmark their own progress against other cities. “By and large, other cities will be looking toward Minneapolis for ways to improve,” he added.
Self-billed as “the most in-depth survey ever completed,” the study is an extension of a 1999 report that examined the same five issues at the state level. Minnesota received an overall B, tying for sixth place with 11 other states.

Travis Reed covers environment and transportation, and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3235.